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What Umeme is doing to keep Uganda switched on

Umeme field technician at work

Umeme field technician at work

Covid-19, the deadly disease caused by the coronavirus is now a local and global reality. I would like to applaud all our frontline healthcare workers and other individuals and institutions working day and night under the strategic guidance of our president, to keep this pandemic at bay in Uganda.

As guided by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, while the healthcare workers fight the disease, care must be taken to keep the economy running, without compromising public health.

Umeme accounts for over 97 per cent of all electricity supply in the country, and we, therefore, understand and appreciate that we must stay at work to keep the country switched on and running.

I appreciate the efforts of our 1,625 staff and contractors who have remained committed to keeping the lights on. We also appreciate the support received from the security joint task force, which has continued to support us during these tough times. 

But Uganda can only keep the economy running, if we are all healthy and alive, which is why I urge all of us to join hands to fight the coronavirus by adhering to all government directives and guidelines especially staying home and practising the various safety measures that government has so articulately communicated.

Keeping Uganda switched on

At Umeme, the safety of our customers, our staff, and the public has always been a priority. In light of the directives issued by the government, Umeme has had to inevitably make adjustments in our standard operating procedures to protect our staff and subsequently the public, but also ensure we reliably keep on the lights.

First of all, to reduce the level of human interaction, we have had to scale down on the number of staff coming to work physically. This has seen us reduce the number of staff per shift.

To fit within the 12-hour night curfew, we have also had to create longer shifts of 12 hours in our contact centre and work management centre. We have further relocated staff required to be at work to service centres nearest to their places of residence.

The staff rationalisations, however, do not affect the technical teams. We have maintained the usual technical teams who attend to faults in Kampala, Entebbe & Mukono areas.

Our entire upcountry faults teams are also fully operational. The specialised teams that attend to big breakdowns and vital installations such as factories, healthcare facilities, security installations, and other vital facilities are on standby.

The decongestion on our roads has also allowed us to respond to emergencies and technical faults faster and timelier. This is why for example even with the reduced workforce, our service levels remain high.

Keeping health and manufacturing facilities running

Most referral health facilities, except Mulago national referral hospital, do not have dedicated power lines. They share these power lines with other users in the community in which these facilities are located.

To ensure maximum efficiency during this delicate period, Umeme carried out preventive inspections and maintenance on these lines and the supporting substations to enhance their performance. We have also made sure that any emerging faults on these lines are prioritised ahead of other faults for faster restoration of supply.

Also, the pre-paid meters to health facilities were replenished with credit to ensure continuity of supply without disconnection. The continued investment in the distribution grid has significantly contributed to its stability and reliability.

For this year, the plan is to invest a further $80 million in substations, line works, and expansion of distribution zones. We also aim to convert the remaining 150,000 postpaid customers to pre-paid metering.

Protecting Umeme staff and their families

For the safety of our staff, Umeme complies with the ministry of Health guidelines on Covid-19 and has provided the required personal protective equipment like working goggles, hand sanitizers, vehicle sanitizers, and gloves, etc.

Our field technical teams are under strict instructions to adhere to ministry of Health guidelines while attending to network operations and technical customer service requests.

We urge the public to boost the efficacy of these initiatives by equally practising the ministry of health guidelines, especially maintaining the recommended 4 meters social distance while dealing with our staff.   

The investments in technology have enabled us to continue serving our customers through the use of digital channels at our contact centre, payments through digital channels, remote network management through the use of SCADA  and remote working of our staff.

Our operations would have been significantly derailed during the lockdown period if we had not embraced technology over the years.

Let us stay safe, stay home, and save lives.  

The author is the managing director, Umeme Ltd.


0 #1 WADADA rogers 2020-05-26 13:01
Thats your work, to keep Ugandans with power that they pay for through the nose, what else
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0 #2 Wazza 2020-05-26 14:58
Rubbish! So if there was no COVID, what would you be doing?

Stopping writing rubbish to us. we have enough stress so your mockery is sickening.

Other companies removed some tariffs on mobile money, we expect you to match that or even better those measures.

By writing this rubbish, you are seeking relevance in a very cheap way. An MD should not be reasoning like a market vendor. Thinking by doing what you are supposed to do is a privilege is laughable.
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0 #3 Ronald Galiwango 2020-06-02 21:13
Sir, regarding your core mission, are you even remotely aware of how much your staff are fleecing Ugandans under the guise of 'unreceipted' connection fees, witholding accurate inspection survey reports prior to new connections etc.

If you want to 'catch' a corrupt Umeme worker, connect me with your representative to follow up.

I wish corruption would end one day in Uganda but alas..
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